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Intronaut - Habitual Levitations Review

About.com Rating 4.5 Star Rating

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Intronaut - Habitual Levitations

Intronaut - Habitual Levitations

Century Media Records
Intronaut’s hometown Los Angeles area is a gargantuan stew pot of 14 million people. In this boiling mass, 10 million people play in 20 million bands. Most inevitably drown in the stew. Every so often, a great band like Intronaut rises up from the bubbling tar pit with a gorgeous, exhilarating masterwork like Habitual Levitations. With a cliché originated in L.A., it might be a rush to judgment to label an unreleased album as a classic, but this is worth the risk.

Intronaut has driven a frustrating road toward finding the correct off-ramp. Destined for greatness, they’ve circled the cloverleaf around downtown with Void, Prehistoricisms and the terrific Valley of Smoke before finally finding the miracle mile. The first minute of “Killing Birds with Stones” sets the metallic tone before Sacha Dunable sings ‘Does the day keep you up, up at night?,’ in a clean, distant voice.

Polyrhythmic pyrotechnics explode in the skies of the organic production as the track summons prog metal, modern jazz and smoky jamming. The usual comparisons come to mind such as Isis, tesseracT, and Kylesa, but Intronaut has smoked itself up to a higher plain on Habitual Levitations.

The ribbons of textured guitar, spun like brilliant glass around skin-tight beats, seem to use melody as streamers of color and collision. Fret not as heaviness never throws its cape over it face and hisses off into the dark. There’s metal in every track, some brass, some gold and a lot of uranium. Danny Walker and Joe Lester have arc-welded themselves together into a jazz-metal monster of a rhythm section.

Lester’s work on Habitual Levitations is warm and insistently intense. Limpid lines that drive the songs then suddenly break into luscious climbs pour from Lester’s fingers. Heavy metal and bass guitars rarely talk to each other, let alone force themselves onto the same tour bus. Joe Lester’s virtuosity has the two sharing a passionate honeymoon.

As metal’s gargle-with-Drano vocal slowly loses it sting through over usage, the New Wave of Clean Vocal Metal has helped courageous bands to achieve artistic success, and with it the financial gains to continue making music. Intronaut blends lead vocals and, gulp, doses of doubled harmonies over most of the tracks.

Fans of the Void vocal assault will have to relax and just listen before going caveman on their Vevo preset. “The Welding and “Sore Sight for Eyes” bring the scorch but do it without the screech. “The Way Down” rages and swelters for over six minutes before getting high on oscillator psilocybin. Metal has plenty of room for the frenzied low-down and dirty, but there’s also room for Mastodon, Intronaut, even Opeth to back off the devil-got-my-throat vocals.

“Milk Leg” is the album’s first single and it’s most accessible track. It doesn’t make quite the demands of the other tracks, but it’s a tremendous invitation to what Habitual Levitations offers. Through the cannabistic plumes, the precision of a Meshuggah, the power of an Orange amp and perhaps the backstage shadows of the Modern Jazz Quartet, Intronaut have cooked up the perfect stew, where every element complements the other and magnificence is served.

(released March 19, 2013 on Century Media Records)

Disclosure: A review copy was provided by the publisher. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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